Georgia State Researcher Gets $3.37M Grant to Improve Quality of Life for People with Dementia

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Professor Candace Kemp of Georgia State University’s Gerontology Institute has received a $3.37 million federal grant to research the best ways to help assisted-living residents with dementia be optimally engaged in life.

In the project, “Meaningful Engagement and Quality of Life among Assisted Living Residents with Dementia,” researchers from Georgia State and Emory University will work with residents and their care partners in assisted-living communities and personal-care homes in and around Atlanta starting in January. The 75 people selected for the study will have varying types of dementia and levels of functional ability and be diverse in gender, age, race and ethnicity and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Understanding and identifying strategies for promoting opportunities for meaningful engagement, including physical, social, spiritual and intellectual activity, hold promise for improving quality of care and quality of life for persons with dementia,” Kemp said. “Estimates of dementia in assisted living vary from between 40 and 70 percent of residents having some form of cognitive impairment.”

People with dementia also vary in the ability to express their needs and preferences, said project collaborator Elisabeth O. Burgess, professor and director of the Gerontology Institute, within the College of Arts and Sciences.

“As cognitive function declines, care workers, family members, and other care partners may find it challenging to identify or create opportunities for meaningful engagement,” Burgess said. Given the personal and changing nature of meaningful engagement, strategies that successfully promote it are likely to begin with knowing the person and person-centered care, she said.

Other Georgia State collaborators include Fayron Epps, assistant professor in the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Jennifer Craft Morgan, assistant professor in the Gerontology Institute, as well as collaborators from Emory University, Alexis Bender, Molly M. Perkins and Kenneth Hepburn.

The five-year project is being funded by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. The study supports the National Alzheimer’s Plan to improve care quality and support for persons living with dementia and their care partners.